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PRACTICE AREAS

Prenuptial Agreements and Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a contract entered into by two people prior to marriage. This agreement allows a couple to define and ascribe certain rights to each party in the event of divorce, separation, annulment, or separate maintenance case.

Although the content of prenuptial agreements can vary, they commonly include provisions for division of property, including both what will be considered marital property versus separate property, as well as whether either party is entitled to alimony (spousal support).

There are many reasons you should consider getting a prenup. They top reasons for getting a prenuptial agreement include:

  • You are a high-asset individual who owns or has interest in significant assets such as real estate, business interests, stocks, retirement funds, or other investments.
  • You wish to protect specific separate property or assets
  • You expect an inheritance
  • You want to ensure your estate plan is stays as planned
  • You may have lottery winnings
  • Your business partners are concerned about how your marriage / divorce would impact the business
  • You have a larger assets compared to your future spouse
  • Your future spouse has significant debt compared to you
  • You are about to start a business or career that could potentially earn you significant money
  • You have previously been married
  • You aren’t sure about your future spouse’s motives for marrying you
  • You have children or grandchildren already
  • You are the spouse who earns significantly less and want to be protected
  • You are the spouse who would quit their job to raise children and want to be protected

Should you get a prenup? How will a prenup protect you? What is the process for getting a prenup? How much does a prenup cost? What do I do if my future spouse wants a prenup but I don’t? These are all great questions and therefore it is important to speak with experienced legal counsel who can answer all of your questions. Make sure you consult with an attorney who has handled many prenups as prenuptial agreements ordinarily require a high level of sophistication and experience.

A postnuptial agreement, or postnup, is a contract entered into by a couple who is already married. People enter into postnups primarily because they ran out of time to finalize a prenup before the wedding or they wish to resolve an issue or problem that they are experiencing in their marriage so that the marriage can go forward. While these agreements frequently are used to settle financial issues, they can be used to decide a variety of other issues that are unique to the particular couple. While generally less common than a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can be an effective method for couples to resolve disputes.

Separate Maintenance

Under Georgia law, an individual is allowed to file an action for separate maintenance that protects their legal rights to custody, visitation, financial support, and possession of marital property, without requiring a formal divorce.

In Georgia, you may file for separate maintenance if you have a valid marriage and you are living in a bona fide state of separation. Unlike some states, in Georgia, a husband and wife may live at the same address and still be legally separated. In this situation, however, the husband and wife cannot share the same bed and their lives should be separate financially and socially. In addition to these requirements, the couple cannot have a pending action for divorce in place if one of the parties intends to file for separate maintenance.

Filing for separate maintenance does not mean that the marriage ends. Frequently, an action for separate maintenance would be for couples that do not want, or cannot for whatever reason get, a divorce but want to live apart. Common reasons to file for separate maintenance may include:

  1. The parties do not yet meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Georgia
  2. Religious beliefs prohibit divorce
  3. Social and cultural reasons
  4. To maintain health insurance for a dependent spouse
  5. There may be a possibility of reconciliation

If you think that filing for separate maintenance would be in your best interests, our attorneys can help you understand the process and help put you in the best position in the event the matter should become part of a future divorce action.

Restraining Orders and Protective Orders

In general, a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) is a tool to help protect victims of domestic violence or stalking. This order will require the abuser to stay a certain distance away from you and/or your children, both at home and at your work. In addition, the restrained person will be prohibited from contacting you in person, by telephone, my mail, by email, and through the use of a third party.

Under the Family Violence Act, beginning at O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1, individuals who are abused by present or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children or other persons living or formerly living in the same household have an avenue to gain protection from their abuser.

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), on the other hand, is different from a TPO. A TRO is a short-term pre-trial temporary injunction. In order to obtain a TRO, a party must convince the judge that he or she will suffer immediate irreparable harm unless the order is issued.

If you are the victim of domestic violence or stalking, then a TPO or a TRO may be a legally binding and effective method to prevent contact with your abuser.

Unfortunately, there are also instances when people inappropriately take out a TRO or TPO and falsely accuse someone of abuse or violence. If you are falsely accused and facing a TPO, TRO, or Family Violence hearing, our attorneys can help you with that situation as well.

Stepparent Adoption

The relationship between a stepparent and their stepchild frequently develops into a relationship that is just as meaningful and loving as a relationship between biological parents and their children. By adopting your stepchild(ren), you will gain the same parental rights as a biological parent.

Of course, there are a lot of sensitive issues that accompany stepparent adoption. Our attorneys are experienced with handling issues of this nature and can help guide you through the process.

When seeking an adoption as a stepparent, you will need to notify the child’s other biological (noncustodial) parent. Usually, both biological parents are required to consent to that adoption. When the noncustodial biological parent consents, that parent relinquishes all parental rights and responsibilities.

In addition, Georgia law requires that the stepparent seeking adoption is married to the custodial parent of the child. A domestic partnership is not sufficient for the purpose of adoption of your partner’s child.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both parties are in agreement with all of the terms of the divorce. This includes all issues pertaining to alimony, child custody, child support, attorney’s fees, and the division of assets or debt.

Can the same attorney or law firm represent both parties? No. Even in an uncontested divorce, it is important to note that our attorneys cannot represent both you and your spouse. The Bar Rules of the Georgia make it clear that we can only represent one spouse in a divorce.

If the case is uncontested, then why do I need a lawyer to represent me in the uncontested case? Since your spouse’s attorney does not represent your interests and cannot advise you, it is prudent for you to have your own attorney explain the terms and conditions of any agreement, and provide you with guidance on whether or not the proposed agreement that your spouse wants you to sign is fair, equitable, and in your best interests.

What does an uncontested divorce cost? We typically charge a flat fee for uncontested matters. Call us and we can quickly provide a quote.